NA Romance, Reviews

ContempConvos: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9

GoodReads Summary:

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

My Review:

I’d first like to thank Veronica for starting me reading Colleen Hoover. I have fallen in love with her writing and story telling, and November 9 is no exception. Also, November is my favorite month…

This story is magical, with heartbreak, and lots of character growth since it take place over the course of five years. Fallon and Ben meet once a year, on November 9th, to update each other on what has happened in their lives in the past year. It’s adorable how they come together, and tragic, due to the circumstances that follow their initial meeting. Fallon and Ben are both extremely complicated characters with pasts that haunt their present. Ben helps Fallon through her confidence issues; Fallon helps Ben through his writing.

Hoover provides many quotable moments, but my favorite is in the beginning, when Ben and Fallon meet on the first November 9th: “Goals are achieved through discomfort and hard work. They aren’t achieved when you hide out in a place where you are nice and cozy.” I think that quote sets the mood for the book. In order to understand yourself, sometimes you have to go through discomfort and pain to truly know, not only yourself, but what you are capable of. Fallon’s mother states, “You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.” And I wholeheartedly agree with her. Before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, ya contemporary

ARC Review: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Goodreads Summary:

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?

In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad simultaneously skewers the body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside their physical appearance, and delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform. As caustically funny as it is heartbreaking, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl introduces a vital new voice in fiction.

Review:

I really enjoyed reading 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl because I empathized with Lizzie. Struggling with weight in a society that won’t accept you if you aren’t skinny is difficult. It affects you mentally and physically. The book is an eye opener- you need to be comfortable in whatever body type you have. And if you are heavier and lose weight, your thought mentality won’t change just because you lost that weight; you’ll always be worried about getting fat again… like Lizzie does. Reading through this I definitely understood the thoughts Lizzie has- trying on clothes is the worst experience, nothing fits right, she has a difficult time looking at and talking about her body, and she has a lot of insecurities with guys because of her weight.

The ending wasn’t my favorite, but it makes sense. As a women, I believe we need to accept our bodies and while Lizzie may not ever accept her body, she understands that this is only body she has, therefore she needs to take care of it.

Mona Awad takes a deep look at the character’s flaws and insecurities, and should be a must read for all women whether you are skinny, fat, short, tall, etc. It is reflective of our current society and something we need to change.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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This book will be released on February 26, 2016. And is available at Amazon and B&N.

Disclaimer: Thank you First to Read and Penguin Random House for providing the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion.

Reviews, ya romance

Book Review: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

The Love That Split the World

GoodReads Summary:

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review:

The Love That Split The World is an enchanting read about young love and time travel. Natalie can see two different versions of her hometown, Union, and meets an intriguing guy, Beau, when she slips into the alternate town. Her grandmother, a “spirit”, tells her at the beginning of the book that she has three months to save “him”, but Natalie doesn’t know who “he” is. She spends the summer trying to discover who this guy she is supposed to save is, but also who she is and what she wants.

I found this book to be very interesting. There are stories within the overarching story itself. These stories come from old Native American tales passed down through generations, but also stories out of the bible. For Natalie, these stories have meaning because she is part Native American. Natalie is a complex character trying to find out who she is and where she fits in with the world. Since she is adopted, and one half Native American, she finds it difficult to determine where she fits in. When she meets Beau, who is an equally complex character, she is certain she has found someone who understands her circumstances because he is having a difficult time determining where he fits into the world as well.

Grandmother is a curious character. She tells stories that you don’t fully understand until the moment the Natalie understands them. She is an odd duck, only appearing to Natalie during the nighttime speaking in riddles.

Beau is my favorite character. He is chivalrous and benevolent. He is, generally,always there for Natalie when she needs him the most. And the bond that is formed between them is unbreakable.

Emily Henry’s writing is wonderful. I loved her use of the story within a narrative. As a reader, we are being told that these tales are important to the character in her quest to save a boy and discover herself. They play a major part in the plot and are a kind of foreshadowing, though at the time of reading them I didn’t know what they were foreshadowing.

I enjoyed the book, but I am not a fan of the ending. I was left with questions and wasn’t fulfilled. I need closure from my characters.

**SPOILERS** Don’t read below this point if you haven’t read! **SPOILERS**

If you have finished The Love That Split The World, great! I truly did love this book, HOWEVER, I did not love the ending. I was left with so many freaking questions and it made me angry (Veronica heard all about how angry it made me).

The second to last chapter leaves us with Natalie making the choice to try and change history, the accident’s that left both her and Beau dead in their own worlds. GREAT! I love that idea. However, the last chapter is another story, telling us how a girl had never met a boy but she had missed him. I get the continuity with the story, and metaphorically, we can draw our own conclusions- Natalie succeeded in saving them both and they live happily ever after. I am not one to assume these things. I enjoy solid closure. I like to know FOR CERTAIN that she changes their timelines and they end up together.

This is why a star was knocked off for me.

**End Spoilers***

Rating: 4 out of 5

NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews, Special Review

Book Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Scarred

GoodReads Summary:

“Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.”

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

Review:

Scarred is about Sloane Munster, who suffers from a tragic accident in her life, leaving her physically and mentally scarred. Due to the trauma, she spends almost a year in hiding, finishing her junior year with private tutors. But through the help of her therapist, Sloane attends a new school for senior year, where she runs into old faces, new faces, and has to come to terms with the actions of her mother as well as herself and how she will move forward with her life.

Joanne Macgregor’s writing is a graceful look at the physical and emotional aftermath of a tragedy in a person’s life. It is evocative. It doesn’t push aside the effects mental illness has on a person. Or how, through the support of friends, family, and love, a person can move forward in their life- move past the tragedy and see there is a bright future ahead of them.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Sloane Munster felt very one dimensional- she was focusing on how she looked and how her life used to be. She was beautiful. She was popular. “I didn’t used to get called anything nasty about my appearance, I used to be pretty. The GG’s- short for Gorgeous Girls- that’s what our clique was called, in my old school.” However, after moving further into the book, Sloane becomes more than a one dimensional character. The scar is just a representation of her emotions. By the end, I fell in love and didn’t want it to end.

Sloane is a truly tragic, and complex, character who has to adjust to her life A.S.- after scar. The girls at her new school taunt her looks, which shows just how juvenile and immature teenage girls can be. It also is a reflection of our society and how much pressure we put on young girls when it comes to physical appearances. She has to deal with boys staring at her. She has to acquiesce the lose of her family and guilt of ruining another family.

I truly enjoyed when Luke, Sloane’s love interest, was given a chapter. He is a central character, not only to Sloane’s development through out the book, but to the story itself. Seeing his point of view is vital to understanding his involvement in the accident and how he develops as a character. As a side sub-plot, the book also address the treatment of others in general, whether it is a student-student relationship, a student-teacher relationship, or a child-parent relationship, and how that can impact a person’s life, positively or negatively.

Joanne Macgregor is a counseling psychologist who specializes in victims of crime and trauma. It is very apparent that she knows what she is writing about; it is captivating and emotional and clearly understood from a psychologist’s point of view.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a gripping story of tragedy, loss, and survival. I think an anthem to this book is Scars to You Beautiful by Alessia Cara. Go listen to it during/after reading this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for the opportunity to read Scarred in return for an honest review. Receiving this book for free doesn’t influence my opinion.

Tuesday Meme

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016

TopTenTuesday

Thank you to The Broke and The Bookish for this wonderful meme! If you want to learn how to participate, click here and check it out. Promise you won’t regret it.

Oh man guys! My book calendar is sooooo full of 2016 releases. But these are the ones I am MOST excited about!!

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)  The Love That Split the World  Salt to the Sea

Remembrance (The Mediator, #7)  The Return (Titan, #1)  Rebel of the Sands

Wink Poppy Midnight  The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)  A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

 

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Reviews, YA Paranormal, ya romance

Book Review: Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Oblivion (Lux, #1.5)

GoodReads Summary:

I knew the moment Katy Swartz moved in next door, there was going to be trouble. Lots of it.

And trouble’s the last thing I need, since I’m not exactly from around here. My people arrived on Earth from Lux, a planet thirteen billion light years away. Plus, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that humans can’t be trusted. We scare them. We can do things they only dream about, and honestly, we make them look weak as hell. ‘Cuz they are.

But Kat is getting to me in ways no one else has, and I can’t stop myself from wanting her—or wanting to use my powers to protect her. She makes me weak, and I’m the strongest of our kind, tasked with protecting us all. So this one simple girl…she can mean the end for us. Because the Luxen have an even bigger enemy—the Arum, and I need to stay on my game.

Falling for Katy—a human—won’t just place her in danger. It could get us all killed, and that’s one thing I’ll never let happen…

Review:

So this book is a retelling of the first three books in The Lux Series: Obsidian, Onyx, and Opal from Daemon’s point of view, but only if you purchased eBook. The published paperback is only a retelling of Obsidian because it would’ve cost the publisher and the reader a lot more as the eBook is over 1,000 pages.

As I loved The Lux Series, it’s no surprise that I loved this retelling from Daemon’s point of view. When a book is told from one POV, I always wonder what the other characters are doing.  Clearly we can’t have every single character in every single scene. This retelling is helpful because in Origin and Opposition we do get to read from both Daemon and Katy’s POV.

It was nice to see a more well-rounded, fully formed Daemon. His attitude hasn’t changed- still the same narcissistic personality. But we do see the sweeter side of him. It is immensely helpful to finally understand where his brain is when he is making his decisions about Kat and his family.

Great add to The Lux Series.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Other, Random

The Talking Bookworm Holiday Gift Guide

My parent’s have been bugging me recently about what I want from Santa. The obvious answer is books. Lots and lots of books.  Cause what do I do? I read… a lot. So I thought  others might be able to use book recommendations for the biblophiles in their lives. Below is mine and Veronica’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Liz’s Holiday Gift Guide

I am a lover of fantasy, paranormal, romance, young adult combination novels. I also love series books. The books below are all those things and more. There are angels, magic, fairy-tale re-tellings, love, heartbreak, heists, and more. These are all the first novels in their series, with the exception of Scarlet– it’s my favorite out of the four novels in The Lunar Chronicles series.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)  A Matter of Fate (Fate, #1) Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2) Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

Veronica’s Holiday Gift Guide

My list is going to be very different from Liz because I am a huge fan of realistic young adult fiction. While my family does not celebrate Christmas, we do give each other gifts on new year’s. Here is my list of what you should give the bibliophile in your life [if they have not read them, of course!]:

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What books do you want this holiday season? 

NA Paranormal, NA Romance, Reviews

Book Review: Iniquity by Amy A. Bartol

Iniquity (The Premonition, #5)

goodreads summary

I gasp as my body curls toward Brennus like a flower to the sun, for the pleasure of it. He holds me close to him. His nose grazes the length of my neck. He breathes me in. I feel the roar and rush of my heartbeat. I’m his toy; his energy streams into me. He winds the invisible key in my back and the euphoria ratchets and coils inside of me: tick…tick…tick…

Another wicked surge of energy flows from him into me. Pain. Pleasure. Bliss. My jaw unclenches as my lips part. I make a small, breathy sound as we dance. Brennus responds with something close to a growl. “Ye’re killing me, mo chroí,” he murmurs. His hand moves down my back infusing me with a golden glow of power. My wings punch violently from me, tearing a hole in my day dress. They spread wide, like a red stain beyond my pale skin. I’m dancing now for the thrill of it. I follow his lead.

As the song comes to an end, Brennus kisses my throat. He whispers in my ear, “When ye get back, come find me, mo chroí. I’ve healed ye…now wake up and banjax whoever banished ye here…”

review

The basics

Evie is a half-angel/half-human being who has mission on earth from heaven. She doesn’t know what that is but she does have help- Russel, her soulmate,  Reed, her aspire (angel soulmate),  Buns, Brownie, and Zypher (her family), and  Brennus, her Gancanagh King. They are constantly moving and fighting with creatures, all the while Evie gets these premonitions in her dreams of things that are going to happen. Lots of love, hot guys, and yes- sex. But also lots of kick ass female characters. Evie isn’t one for cowering when life gets tuff. 

**Spoilery**

So this is the 5th and final book in The Premonition Series by Amy A. Bartol. The others are Inescapable, Intuition, Indebted, and Incendiary.

Bartol has defined herself as a pantser (writes by the seat of her pants), but she has plotted this series so well. The twist and turns come when you least expect them to. Iniquity is no different. The story weaves through Evie’s past and present, finally explaining to us why she is on earth and what her heavenly mission is- to destroy her inescapable and choose a love of her own.

Bartol’s writing is as strong as ever. Lots of details. Lots of steamy scenes. Lots of action.

One thing that drives me nuts, and has nothing to do with the writing, are the male characters, specifically Brennus, Tau (Evie’s father), and Xavier (Evie’s guardian angel who was in love with her). They don’t respect what Evie wants.  She’ll make a statement like “I don’t want to be with you” and they will ignore her completely. And this kept happening throughout the book. The only person who knows what is best for Evie, is Evie herself. Ugh, male egos.

Overall, I feel sort of indifferent about the book… and the ending. I was so worried the entire time that Evie, or Reed, or Brennuss, or Buns, or Russle, or Brownie, or Zypher was going to die that it took away from my  focus on the story.  I couldn’t care less about the fate of Tau or Xavier. And the ending was okay. Evie ending up where she belonged… they all ended up where she belonged.

I think in the end the book was lack luster. However, I enjoyed it as much as the previous ones. I could’ve used more kick ass Evie and less everyone else.

rating: 4 out 5

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Reviews, YA Paranormal

Book Review: Wicked (A Wicked Saga #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Written by: Liz Brooks

GoodReads Summary:

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart.

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

Review:

As with any Jennifer L. Armentrout book I read, and I’ve read almost all of her books, I loved every second of Wicked. I also loved the fact that the story takes place in New Orleans, so you get the mystery of the city- hauntings, great scenery descriptions, everything New Orleans is known for.

Ivy Morgan is an admirable character. She made me nostalgic for my college days- though I wasn’t trying to kick some faerie butt. She is fiercely independent which is what drew me to her. (Also her red hair is out of this world.) She just wants to be a normal college student but she can’t be. She belongs to a secret society called The Order, dedicated to taking out all faerie life because they basically eat humans and well… that isn’t good. And of course she has a tragic backstory which stunts her personal growth and relationships with other people.

That is until she meets Ren Owens.

Ren is mysterious and hot, hot, hot. And a bad-ass. The chemistry he has with Ivy is swoon worthy. It was definitely a lust at first sight relationship. Ren also has an intriguing backstory which compliments Ivy’s. Ren is sweet and patient. He really pushes Ivy and helps her overcome her past.

Tink is my favorite character. He is an Amazon addict. He eats too much sugar. And he says what’s on his mind.

I was able to predict the ending. This seems to happen a lot to me. Maybe I read too much into what the authors write or maybe I’ve read so much that foreshadowing just jumps out at me.

The next book in the Series is called Torn. No release date as of yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Reviews, Special Review, ya contemporary

Book Review: A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery

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Goodreads Summary:

When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

Review:

Wow.

This book swept me away. I was not expecting this book to show the crazy side of grief in such a real way. And to show that the grey area of the world is much more complicated than we make it out to be. I’m floored that we get such a real experience of grief.

We start of the story with the twins Kelsey and Michelle. They seem to be complete opposites. Twins that could not be more different. And then Michelle dies. It changes everything for Kelsey. She sees that all this time, she never really knew her sister. Not anymore. Not for the past few years. I really liked that AMMA started of with both of them alive, instead of Kelsey reminiscing.

Now let’s start the review portion where I let my thoughts go free…

AMMA felt so… Real. The entire time I was reading AMMA, it felt like I could know Kelsey in real life. She was such a genuine character and I felt for her. The themes in the novel and the experiences seemed so real. Maybe because war is an everyday thing to many people in this world nowadays, and death is something that happens naturally in everyday life. It’s Just… Crazy.

I really liked that Kelsey who is known to not be a girl who studies was able to get an A+ on a paper by studying hard. We don’t normally see the process of someone studying hard in books, and we are able to see how hard she studies in AMMA. As someone who had to study a fair amount to get good grades, it makes me feel good to see this portrayed in a YA novel.  Kelsey learning how to study opened up a new world for her. She was able to see how much she could accomplish if she tried, and that gave her the fire she needed to start living again.

Let’s touch quickly on the male protagonist. Peter is such a complex character. The more we read about him, the more layers he received, and it is so gratifying to see a love interest get so much development. I was ecstatic.

I honestly think AMMA is one of the best books about grief in the YA sphere. I haven’t really heard much buzz about it, and it really does deserve more than it is getting so far.

Recommend to anyone looking for a sad yet inspiring read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Poppy/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion.